Kale is one of the superfoods for dogs that is easy to add to their diets and usually very easy to find. It can be added shredded, chopped or leafy, steamed, baked, sautéed or raw, depending on how your dog will eat it. It provides many nutrients and lowers cholesterol. Kale is known to help prevent at least 5 types of cancer in humans and research suggests it does the same in animals. Kale serves as both an anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant. The unique combination of flavonoids with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories has been shown to alleviate chronic joint stress and daily wear and tear. Also for daily health, kale is known to contain essential vitamins often missing or insufficient in dog food including: beta carotene, calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin.
So, a bit of kale now and then is a great way to add a plethora of nutrients to you and your dogs’ diets. Kale might be a little pricey fresh at the grocery store this time of year, but frozen is usually cheaper and better during winter. Fortunately, in Center City Philadelphia, there is always Reading Terminal Market and plenty of farmers’ markets all year. In the past week, I have found fresh kale for under $3.00 at 2 farmers markets in town.
Research and experts say dogs are carnivores at heart and will always choose meat and bones over vegetables. But they are also omnivores, in the wild and in domesticity, and will eat other foods for survival or taste. Knowing what to stay away from is important. For starters, always avoid known toxins, including (but not limited to): weight bearing or cooked bones, onion, raisins, wine and grapes, caffeine, chocolate, macadamia nuts, pits and cores and poisonous plants for starters. (There is a pretty decent list here at vetinfo.com) And then anything else dependent on your dog’s specific health issues or breed problems. After that, research, observance and experimentation will go a long way toward rounding out your dog’s diet. They can eat what you don’t want and would usually waste, like eggshells, brown fruit, older/spoiling meat, scrubbed vegetable peelings and more. Or they can eat small servings or leftovers (sweet potatoes, broccoli) to give them the vitamins that they might be missing, like beta-carotene or calcium, which are often insufficiently supplied by over processed kibble, or just not present in them to begin with. (Check out the full list of vitamins, benefits and sources at The Dog Food Project. Also helpful for vegans and vegetarians is their side-by-side comparison of veg dog foods.)
The key to a healthy dog is a knowledgeable and aware owner, who fully investigates and questions everything and anything they give their pet. And then adding or subtracting items that are well known and verified by veterinarians and nutritionists to be good or bad for their dog, long term and short term. It doesn’t take a lot of money to be well-read and use every resource to try and make your dog healthy and happy. It does take time and effort. A lot of source reading, question asking and label analyzing. But a soft, coat, high energy level, clean teeth, healthy skin and a calm stomach are invaluable assets that will help you keep your dog alive and with you as long as you can. So, in my opinion, every second you spend and every amazing moment you get with your dog are equally worth the investment. For companions who never fail to give you their physical, emotional and mental best, it’s the least we can do as humans. So, read everything, think about it, ask vets, nutritionists, or friends, all of whom (if like me) will be more than glad to let you know from experience what results they have gotten from different diets, additives or subtractions. (Hopefully they aren’t all like me or you might be inspecting a lot of teeth and feeling many coats.)
Please see the following links for more information:
- ROCKY’S PETFINDER PAGE
- World’s healthiest foods: What’s new and beneficial about kale?
- The Dog Food Project’s Vitamin Page
- Reading Terminal Market
- NBC10 Philadelphia Buy frozen! 6 ways to save at the supermarket
- Philadelphia Farmers Markets
- Toxins that affect dogs via vetinfo.com
- Comparison of vegan and vegetarian dog foods